In 2018, Ashland University's football team led the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in kickoff return average (23.3 ypr.), field goal percentage (86.7) and extra point percentage (100.0), and was second in punting average (40.4).
The Eagles' emphasis on the kicking game pays off, and they will look for it to do so once again in 2019 – thanks to two of the best specialists in the GLIAC a year ago.
Junior kicker Satchel Denton is coming off a debut season in the program in which he made all 30 extra points and a league-best 13-of-15 field goals. Those two missed total kicks were the lowest among all GLIAC full-time kickers in 2018, and his field goal percentage was second-best in NCAA Division II.
Sophomore Austin Brenner, both Ashland's starting quarterback and punter, led the GLIAC in punting average at 41.3 last season. Keeping a quarterback at the punter position led the Eagles to yield just 7.7 yards per punt return in 2018, 9.6 yards in 2017, and 7.4 yards in 2016.
"Satchel, he's money," said Brenner. "Our punt team…the way that we punt, that is really good for us, and really limits the opportunities the other team gets to return the ball on us," Brenner said.
Snapping for both Denton and Brenner will be senior tight end Ben Fago, who has served as the backup long snapper in recent years.
Training camp will decide who the Eagles' return men will be. AU will look to maintain its strong kickoff return average, while improving on last year's 2.8-yard punt return average (17 returns, eight fair catches). Returning players have just two of last year's 21 kickoff returns, and 12 of last year's punt returns.